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FH82 - Physical Geography

Physical Geography

BSc Honours

  • UCAS code: FH82
  • Full time
  • 3 years
  • Next start date: September 2021
Year :

The Physical Geography degree programme equips you with the technical skills and scientific knowledge needed to address global challenges in the natural environment.

Fees (per year)

  • Home: £9250
  • International: £19800

Entry requirements

  • A Level: ABB
  • IB: 32 points

UCAS Institution name and code:

  • NEWC / N21
Work placement opportunity Study abroad opportunity

Course overview

This degree gives you the opportunity to focus on physical geography from the very start. You'll develop a deep understanding of the processes that shape our planet and how they impact on human lives and communities. Alongside this, you'll develop advanced laboratory and GIS skills.

You'll learn from internationally recognised experts in a range of fields, in the UK and internationally. Valuable field visits will take you to explore our geographically rich region but also to places as far away as Morocco, Iceland and New Zealand.

Having already performed very well in A level Geography, you'll continue to build a firm foundation of knowledge and skills in Stage 1, enabling you to thrive in the final stages. The turning point of the degree is a residential field course module in Stage 2.

Your course during COVID-19
Please rest assured we make all reasonable efforts to provide you with the programmes, services and facilities described. However, it may be necessary to make changes due to significant disruption.

Given the changing nature of the COVID-19 pandemic, the commitments outlined are subject to guidelines that may be in place from time to time.

View our COVID-19 Study page, which gives information about your Newcastle University study experience for the academic year 2021-22.

See our terms and conditions and student complaints information

Quality and ranking

  • top 50 – Geography category – QS World University Rankings by Subject 2021
  • top 150 – Social Sciences category – Times Higher Education World University Rankings by Subject 2021
  • 10th in the UK for research – Research Excellence Framework 2014

Modules and learning


The information below is intended to provide an example of what you will study.

Most degrees are divided into stages. Each stage lasts for one academic year, and you'll complete modules totalling 120 credits by the end of each stage. 

Our teaching is informed by research. Course content may change periodically to reflect developments in the discipline, the requirements of external bodies and partners, and student feedback.

Optional module availability
Student demand for optional modules may affect availability.

Full details of the modules on offer will be published through the Programme Regulations and Specifications ahead of each academic year. This usually happens in May.

To find out more please see our terms and conditions.

You'll have strong A-Level results (or equivalent) and a background in science. We will build on these foundations in Stage 1 by equipping you with the knowledge, understanding and technical skills that will help you succeed in Stages 2 and 3 of your degree.

You'll explore global environmental issues alongside physical geography concepts and techniques. Typically, course content will encompass processes including:

  • glacial
  • volcanic
  • tectonic
  • slope
  • river catchment
  • coastal

We'll introduce you to the methods used to understand how environments and landscapes evolve. This includes mapping, surveying, GIS and the analysis of remote sensing data.


Compulsory Modules Credits
Geographic Information Systems 10
An Introduction to GNSS and its Applications 10
Principles of Remote Sensing 10
Environmental Issues 20
Introduction to Physical Geography 20
Geographical Skills 20
Quantitative Geographical Analysis 10

Stage 2 allows you to tailor your degree to your interests. You'll study modules that cover:

  • advanced research techniques
  • key methods in physical geography

Your remaining topics will be optional, giving you the chance to engage with our cutting-edge research in areas that interest you the most.

You will also have a choice of destinations for your Stage 2 residential field course.


Compulsory Modules Credits
Doing Physical Geography Research: Theory and Practice 20
Key Methods for Physical Geographers 20
Optional Modules Credits
Animals, Plants and People: an Introduction to Environmental Archaeology 20
Geological Resources 10
Research Methods in Environmental Pollution 20
Geographic Information Systems: Theory and Application 10
Student Exchange Semester 2 50
Global Environmental Change 20
Glacial Environments 20
Biogeography 20
River Catchment Dynamics 20
Career Development for second year students 20

You'll have a wide choice of optional modules that are directly linked to the research work of our staff.

You'll also undertake your dissertation research project. This is a major piece of independent research, based on your interests. It is led by you with support from a dedicated academic mentor.


Optional Modules Credits
Advanced GIS Fieldcourse 20
Geohazards and Deformation of the Earth 10
Geospatial Informatics 10
Ireland Fieldtrip 20
Geography Fieldtrip for Module Pre-Registration 20
Dissertation for Study Abroad Students 40
Dissertation 40
Student Exchange 40
Polar Environments 20
Landslides from Pole to Pole 20
Palaeoclimates 20
Applied Fluvial Geomorphology 20
Career Development for final year students 20

Teaching and assessment

Teaching methods

Our geography courses include a high level of staff and student interaction, including:

  • small group teaching
  • 1-to-1 tutorials
  • lectures
  • laboratory work in new Geoscience laboratories
  • IT lab sessions
  • seminars
  • fieldwork

Your modules also require a considerable amount of independent study.

Assessment methods

You'll be assessed through a combination of:

  • Coursework

  • Dissertation or research project

  • Essays

  • Examinations – practical or online

  • Group work

  • Presentations

  • Projects

  • Reports

Skills and experience

Practical skills

Field trips in and around our region bring to life topics including;

  • industrial change
  • the conservation of rivers, wetlands and coastal areas under climate change

You'll get to explore further afield in Stages 2 and 3 to gain hands-on experience of different aspects of physical geography.

In recent years, our Physical Geography residential field trips have included destinations such as:

  • Iceland
  • Ireland
  • New Zealand

You'll have the opportunity to apply for expedition funding. This will enable you to conduct ambitious dissertation research anywhere in the world.

Find out more about geography fieldwork at Newcastle

Research skills

You'll be part of a vibrant research community, alongside our highly respected research staff. Fieldwork through your degree will:

  • help you grow as a researcher
  • cultivate your own research techniques

Your final year dissertation will enable you to refine and showcase the research skills you've developed throughout your degree.


Work placement

Get career ready with a work placement and leave as a confident professional in your field. You can apply to spend 9 to 12 months working in any organisation in the world, and receive University support from our dedicated team to secure your dream placement. Work placements take place between stages 2 and 3.

You'll gain first-hand experience of working in the sector, putting your learning into practice and developing your professional expertise.

If you choose to take a work placement, it will extend your degree by a year. A work placement is not available if you're spending a year studying abroad. Placements are subject to availability.

Find out more about work placements

Study abroad

Experience life in another country by choosing to study abroad as part of your degree. You’ll be encouraged to embrace fun and challenging experiences, make connections with new communities and graduate as a globally aware professional, ready for your future.

You may choose to spend semester 2 of Stage 2 or semester 1 of Stage 3 on an international exchange at a partner institution.

Find out more about study abroad

Facilities and environment


As a geography student at Newcastle, you'll be based in the School of Geography, Politics and Sociology.

You'll have access to modern laboratories and workshops, and a range of facilities and specialist equipment that will be part of the entirely refurbished and newly resourced home of Geography at Newcastle, the Henry Daysh Building and Geoscience Laboratories.

Our geomorphology and sediment, chemistry and biology laboratories are used for a combination of teaching and research. Our research-specific laboratories comprise organic geochemistry and palaeoecology, a spatial analysis lab, and cosmogenic isotope lab.

Field equipment

Field equipment includes a range of technologies for:

  • topographic survey
  • soil and sediment sampling
  • biological and chemical analysis
  • hydrological analysis

Our laboratories

  • biology laboratory
  • chemistry laboratory
  • cosmogenic isotope laboratory
  • geomorphology and sediment laboratories
Students walking through the Newcastle campus


You'll have the support of an academic member of staff as a personal tutor throughout your degree to help with academic and personal issues.

Peer mentors will help you in your first year. They are fellow students who can help you settle in and answer any questions you have, when starting university.

You'll also benefit from our:

  • extended induction programme, to help you quickly settle in to our lively community of staff and students
  • activities and events run by our highly active student-run society, GeogSoc

Your future

Join a network of successful graduates

93% of our Physical Geography BSc Honours graduates were employed or in further study within 6 months of graduating, with an average salary of £24,400*.

Recent graduates have secured roles such as:

  • assistant flood risk consultant
  • data analyst
  • Environment Agency technical assistant
  • graduate surveyor

*Destinations of (undergraduate, UK and EU) Leavers from Higher Education Survey 2016/17

Graduates in demand

Our graduates’ excellent employment record is a sign of the flexibility and professionalism that our geography degrees develop.

You will leave with sought-after skills, including teamwork, project management, research and presentation skills, and therefore will have access to a wide variety of careers.

A Geography degree from Newcastle will ensure you develop the skills that employers look for and can open the doors to a wide range of careers. Our graduates have been recruited by a variety of organisations, including:

  • the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills
  • the Environment Agency
  • independent and major scientific consultancies
  • Raleigh International
  • the Armed Forces
  • the NHS
  • local government
  • financial services firms

Make a difference

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Careers support

We strongly value developing your employability and have our own Geography Employability Co-ordinator. In your final year you can select an optional work experience module.

Our teaching draws upon rich and diverse research networks connected to the world of work. What we teach captures insights from employers ranging from governmental bodies and policy makers, to non-government organisations, the private sector and charities ensuring you are career ready.

Our award-winning Careers Service is one of the largest and best in the country, and we have strong links with employers. We provide an extensive range of opportunities to all students through our ncl+ initiative.

Visit our Careers Service website

Recognition of professional qualifications outside of the UK

From 1 January 2021 there is an update to the way professional qualifications are recognised by countries outside of the UK.

Read our detailed explanation

Defence Technical Undergraduate Scheme

This degree is approved by DTUS, a Ministry of Defence sponsorship programme for students who wish to join the Royal Navy, British Army, RAF, or Defence Engineering and Science Group (DESG) as technical officers after graduation. 

This scheme is for 2021 entry only. DTUS will not be running for 2022 entry.

Find out more about the Defence Technical Undergraduate Scheme

Entry requirements

All candidates are considered on an individual basis and we accept a broad range of qualifications. The entrance requirements below apply to 2021 entry.

A Level


International Baccalaureate

32 points

Other UK qualifications (and PARTNERS)

Qualifications from outside the UK

English Language requirements


Through our PARTNERS programme, you could receive an offer up to three grades lower than the typical requirements, and get support throughout the application process. To apply through PARTNERS, you must be based in the UK and meet our eligibility criteria. 

Find out more about PARTNERS

Entrance courses (INTO)

International Pathway Courses are specialist programmes designed for international students who want to study in the UK. We provide a range of study options for international students in partnership with INTO. 

Find out more about International Pathway Courses

Admissions policy

This policy applies to all undergraduate and postgraduate admissions at Newcastle University, including Newcastle University London. It is intended to provide information about our admissions policies and procedures to applicants and potential applicants, to their advisors and family members, and to staff of the University.

Tuition fees and scholarships

Tuition fees for 2021 entry (per year)

Home Fee Students


International Fee Students


The maximum fee that we are permitted to charge for home fee-paying students is set by the UK government.

As a general principle, you should expect the tuition fee to increase in each subsequent academic year of your course, subject to government regulations on fee increases and in line with inflation.

Read more about fees and funding

You will be charged tuition fees for each year of your degree programme (unless you are on a shorter exchange programme). 

The tuition fee amount you will pay may increase slightly year on year as a result of inflation.

For courses commencing from September 2021 and beyond, EU, other EEA and Swiss nationals will no longer be eligible for home fees or Student Finance England support.

If you are from the EU you will pay international tuition fees.

Read more about fees and funding

Year abroad and additional costs

For programmes where you can spend a year on a work placement or studying abroad, you will receive a significant fee reduction for that year. 

Some of our degrees involve additional costs which are not covered by your tuition fees.

Find out more about:


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Open days and events

How to apply

Apply through UCAS

To apply for undergraduate study at Newcastle University, you must use the online application system managed by the Universities and Colleges Admissions Service (UCAS). All UK schools and colleges, and a small number of EU and international establishments, are registered with UCAS. You will need:

  • the UCAS name and institution codes for Newcastle University (NEWC/N21)
  • the UCAS code for the course you want to apply for
  • the UCAS 'buzzword' for your school or college

If you are applying independently, or are applying from a school or college which is not registered to manage applications, you will still use the Apply system. You will not need a buzzword.

Apply through UCAS

Apply through an agent

International students often apply to us through an agent. Have a look at our recommended agents and get in touch with them.

Visit our International pages

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